The Only Poll That Matters Is The One On November 4th

I have been following the American election campaign very closely, and the one topic that has been written about ad nauseum is the accuracy of the polls. Quite a lot has been written about the so-called “Bradley affect” – the theory that people lie to pollsters about their willingness to vote for a black candidate. This theory was created in order to explain why black candidates, in some instances, seemed to be far ahead in the polling but went on to either lose the race, or win by a much smaller margin than anticipated.

I personally think that this theory is off the mark, and that the problem in polling has more to do with the sample that the pollsters get than people lying to them. Quite simply, there are many people who do not answer polls, and I believe that more right-wing or conservative voters refuse to answer polls than left-wing liberal voters. The sample that results is then skewed to the left. (I have heard of college kids hired to make the calls having trouble coming up with enough people willing to answer, so they just call their father, their boyfriend, etc…)

This is what happens in Israel, at least. The Ultra-Orthodox are known to favor right wing candidates, and are also known to refuse to answer polls. I can’t speak for everyone who lives in Yehuda and the Shomron (Judea and Samaria), but I personally refuse to answer polls, and I think I am not alone. I am uncomfortable speaking to a complete stranger about my political views, and I am skeptical about how this information will then be used. (Yes, it may seem strange that I am comfortable writing about my political views on my blog, but I see a big difference. Here, I can be careful with my wording, and am not answering a “yes” or “no” question.)

The Israeli media consistently disregards the fact that a lot of right wingers refuse to answer their polls, so they ignore the fact that their sample is not an accurate cross section of the Israeli electorate. That is why they make incorrect predictions.

In any case, the only poll that really matters, in the American election at least, is the one that takes place on November 4th, in the privacy of the voting booth (or, for those of us voting by absentee ballot – I did just this morning! – in the privacy of our living room).

I still think McCain will win. (The New York Times must think this is a possibility too. They are starting to cover themselves here.)

Not only do I think that McCain is a much better candidate, but I am disgusted by the snobbish way the media is treating Sarah Palin. I’m looking forward to seeing her laugh all of the way to the White House….


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. soccer dad
    Oct 24, 2008 @ 15:21:03

    I’d love to believe this. I can’t believe that someone so far from the mainstream and lacking any measurable experience is set to become President. The media, of course, has failed to do their job. (Or they probably view it as having done their job quite well!)

    It’s like 1999 in Israel.

    But when you’re left saying “the only poll that matters is …” it’s because every other indication is that the candidate you prefer is losing. Big time.

    I don’t think that the “silent right” is as pronounced in America as it is in Israel. Maybe I’m wrong. We’ll know in 10 days or so.

  2. nh mom
    Oct 25, 2008 @ 02:12:55

    I sure hope you’re right Westbank mama ! I think the media is trying to discourage McCain voters by making us think there is no hope. I have to say though that in my area there are many McCain signs and only a few for Obama. I am concerned by the issue of voter fraud with same day registrations and no documents required people are voting all over the place. Take care.

  3. Lena
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 18:03:59

    What concerns me about the concept of Sarah Palin as VP is that I don’t think that she knows anything – unless, that is, she has been studying hard since those first few interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric.

    And McCain is the oldest person ever to run for President. And it could be that he comes out of 4 or 8 years as President in perfect health. But the opposite could also be – and I’m a little afraid of the concept of Sarah Palin as President.

  4. Jenifer
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 20:53:48

    In my part of the U.S., it’s very hard to believe that Obama won’t win. I live in the NW–the bastion of liberalism. What I’ve come to see is that Americans seem to be voting with their feelings, not with truth. They FEEL they need change. Change to what??? That is the scary part. It is so odd to me that this nation would head toward socialized medicine when so many of our Canadian neighbors are coming down here for surgeries that they have to wait months for in their country with socialized medicine. But, it is change…hmmm…

    For some reason, President Bush has been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in this country. Granted, I do believe there have been mistakes, but not to the level which blame is cast. (And besides, isn’t Congress mostly Democrats? Our president does not hold ultimate power.)

    It is a time of humbling ourselves before G-d and seeking His face. He alone knows who He has chosen to rule the U.S. at this time in history. All authority is set by Him and under His control. While I certainly hope it’s not Obama, I can’t see the hearts of men or the mind of G-d. I will vote and I will continue to pray.

  5. Batya
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 04:22:38

    I agree. And if they win, Palin must get rid of the Bushies.

  6. westbankmama
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 06:28:10

    soccerdad – again, I think you are putting too much emphasis on their polls. Only now are they actually asking people if they are registered to vote before taking down their opinion, and the polls are now going better for McCain (Sunday, October 25th…)Before it was completely random.

    nhmom – I voted by absentee ballot, and my last address was in New York. Everyone told me that it was a waste, because Obama has such a lead in New York. I think it is important to vote anyway, because you never know what the outcome will be. Don’t get discouraged!

    Lena – she knew enough to be a good mayor and a good governor. She has more experience than Obama has.

    Jenifer – I agree with you, we all need to both vote and pray!

  7. Lena
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 12:34:04

    Yes, she apparently was a good mayor and a good governor. But it’s one thing to be the mayor of a tiny town in Alaska, or the governor of a peripheral, out-of-the-way state, and something else entirely to be on the international stage. And, unless Palin has been hiding something, her grasp of international affairs seems limited. Look at the answers that she gave in those interviews. She couldn’t name a single newspaper or magazine that she reads. And I really don’t like her comments a la “Obama palls around with terrorists” and “I like visiting the pro-America parts of the country.”

    And then there’s her evangelicalism and her lack of belief in global warming and evolution.

  8. Jenifer
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 04:17:25

    Lena–It is the evangelicals in the U.S. that are so pro-Israel. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. We care about Israel and will defend her right to exist to the death.

  9. Lena
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 17:33:42

    Yes, evangelicals are pro-Israel. But they’re also anti-global warming, anti-evolution, and seem to believe that America should be a Christian country.

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